So, the big event, months of preparation, hours of training, early betting said it would be between Nick and Camille, but an on-form Dave or Valentin were outside possibilities, one thing was clear – It was an early start.
Especially for those in the first wave, however this was to have its benefits and the first wave team efficiently set-up and started the long walk from transition down to the swim entry point. A lot of competitors forget their disposable slippers for this walk, and it cheers up even the most nervous to see strong grown men tiptoeing along due to the small stones on the ground.
As usual the entry into the water is too small to cater for the 1500 people who all want to get into the water at the same time, so many (including yours truly) decided to jump into the water from the riverbank, a senseless risk on reflection, but good fun ! The advantage of being in the first wave is that the race officials are not in any hurry to start the wave, so they wait for everyone to enter the water, before firing the gun. However during this wait period many of the ‘front runners’ had drifted 50m ahead under the first bridge due to current, and many had to turn and swim back before the start was announced.
Everything is relative of course, but (for the Seine) the water was fantastic, all the storms the day before meant there was a lot of rain water, and the current was really strong so it came as no surprise that everyone set personal bests on the swim. Nick was out first in 90th position after a swim of 20.04mins – quicker than Thibaut this time !!
Scheduled for exactly 20mins after the 1st wave, it was at about this time the 2nd wave started, although Jamie was still on the riverbank enjoying a pre-race coke when he heard the gun go and as the stairs were still full of people he had to make a pretty quick entry over the side as well – although this probably didn’t effect his overall time much.
Daylight had well and truly broken, but due to the ominous clouds and the strong winds it didn’t really feel like a summers day, but at least it wasn’t raining ! Onto the bike and Nick was steaming ahead, the key on the ride is to get into a good group and stay with them, if you are one of the better riders in the group you will end up pulling the peloton, if not then you will get pulled along, but the point is you will go a lot faster than if you are alone !
But disaster strikes and nick gets not one….but two punctures and has to smile politely as the others from the first wave (Matt, Rich, Seb, and Paul S) all thunder past in their pelotons. Due to the previous nights rain, the course was predictably….wet, and during the race there were a large number of ‘chutes’ which is the french word for when someone goes too quickly round a corner and ends up sliding on their side with their bike on-top of them – looks fun but painful ! Happily no-one in the team decided to try a ‘chute’ – perhaps we are just not aggressive enough ! The only slight fracas involved Dave B who ‘fell’ on-top of another competitor, but he had no physical abrasions to prove this.
After the worlds longest distance transition it was onto the run – a new route this year -1 loop but only 8.5km, but when you include the transition distance it is easily 10km. At this point nick was feeling pretty demotivated, but decided to have a good run nonetheless – Seb and Paul S quickly came into sight and by the 5km he was past them both – Paul helpfully pointing out that Rich was only a minute ahead, so he was the man to catch, and nick found him at the 7km mark, already preparing his excuses.
A quick cross over the bridge then up the Trocadero to the pretty girls with their pom poms who apparently are not too expensive to hire and may be worth looking into for the next house party. Matt had already finished and gone home by the time Nick arrived though, and 10 mins later Camille and Thibaut appeared which meant they had both done great times starting in wave 2.
The sun was trying to come out despite the wind and huge clouds, and the team finally relaxed as they slowly re-grouped at the finish, posed for photos and swapped race stories, once again trying to out-do each other, but this time nobody really cared. There was free cake and drink at the finish and later champagne and buffet at the team picnic, no rain, no major issues just a lot of fun and once again a great event.